What the blog??

This blog is a textual account of my triumphs and struggles in daily life. I've discovered the core of who I am, now is my chance to discover the vital pieces that make up that core. If you know me well enough, I invite you to leave comments. These may be words of encouragement, observations, memories, Bible verses, or whatever else you deem necessary. I'm always open to hearing what my loved ones have to say.


Out of the Shadows...Afton the Great

There comes a time in each of our lives that we finally begin to realize who we are, what led us to this place on our journey, and where we want to go from here. For some, the realization happens early on and is usually spurred by an example set by important figures; for others, it takes time and requires help from an outside source. I am part of the second group. I come from parents who wanted to be protective and make sure they had some say in all of the things I did as a child, adolescent, teenager, and young adult. It seems many of the things I did in my life were in an effort to please them, uphold a reputation, or meet an expectation. I learned how to live for others at a very young age (I am perfectly aware of the specific events which led to this survival mode, but those events are not nearly as relevant now as the realization of the behavior patterns I developed as a corollary of those events). This unhealthy pattern is present in all of my major life relationships, and contributed to the demise of many of them - including relationships which could have resulted in true love, intimacy, marriage, children...the major milestones which, to date, are lacking in my life journey. Some of my relationships were able to survive the unhealthy patterns as I began to identify and dissect those patterns, causing the relationships to thrive and develop into incredibly mature connections without any level of co-dependence present. Other relationships are still in the process of determining survival possibilities. Yet, others came to an end in the middle of my journey to find myself. They say when God closes a door, He opens a window. I have to say that the window to my soul is now open, mostly for my benefit but also resulting in the benefit of others who are trying to get to know the real me. It is not always easy to be open; it is still not quite in my comfort zone to let the walls down and cast aside my old patterns of guarding my heart until I determine if someone is trustworthy. I will never become the person who is suddenly careless and lets anyone and everyone into my world. However, I found in my introspection that even with those I knew I could trust I still held back for fear that I would eventually do something that caused them to change their mind about my worth. Today, I know who I am and I know my worth…neither of which will I allow to be defined by another person.

Those who are around to see the change in me cannot help but express their observation of this change. While it is nice to hear those words of encouragement, in the past I would have lived for the words rather than living for the feeling this change is bringing within me. For those who could not tolerate the process I went through to get here, they will never know the real me. They will only know the me that I was being for them, the me that began to break from that unhealthy cycle, and the memory of the version of me to which they choose to hold on. In the past, that would also bother me…I cared what people thought of me and wanted to make sure I made a good impression, “fixed” things when something went wrong, or got the last word in my own defense. Now, I feel the freedom of just being myself and not living to please others or make sure they have a positive view of me. If I could calculate the number of hours wasted on sleepless nights worrying about others, I could probably take several weeks off from work to try to get those back. But, we all know what they say about catching up on lost sleep, so I will press on in a career that I love, practice the self-care that sustains me, love the people who love me, and continue to make sure that I am sleeping at night as I should be…not waiting for the phone to ring because someone needs to be rescued somewhere or because I might be missing out on something. To those who continue to stick by me, I am forever grateful and know we will continue to grow together. To those I lost along the way, I wish you nothing but success and happiness…which, most importantly, is also what I wish for myself and will continue to strive for on a daily basis.


just a thought before my head hits the pillow...

once one is burned, the phrase "love can build a bridge" becomes merely a song performed by the judds...

thanks for the words of wisdom, dad.


A long time coming...

Have you ever had a moment where you realized just how much you missed someone just by seeing his or her face again? I had a moment like that today. It has been over two years. I have old pictures and plenty of images in my memory. However, nothing can quite compare to those face to face encounters where you can look into someone’s eyes and enjoy just “being” there. Perhaps it is over a shared interest, a meal, or just a random encounter. It does not matter. The feeling of that moment is one which cannot be explained or replaced. It can be filed in your memory bank, but it is never as good as the real thing.

Rain, Rain...DON'T go away!!!

Have you ever noticed the power of rain? At times it comes along unexpectedly and at times you are provided advance warning of its arrival. Rain has the power to cool things down or make the air so thick you cannot breathe. Sometimes it blows sideways with the accompanying wind and other times it falls straight down. The drops of a rain shower can be small and scattered or large and pounding. Large amounts of rain can drive people from their homes and claim lives; the absence of rain can do the same. Above all, I’ve noticed the power that rain has to cleanse. Rain washes away the dirt that builds up on vehicles, sidewalks, houses, and the leaves on a tree. It clears the air and brings with it the smell of renewal – a fresh start. This time in my life feels like the period just after a rain shower. I feel refreshed, renewed, and cleansed. There are many changes taking place. These changes are both professional and personal, emotional and concrete. My outlook is different. The rays of the sun are shining through the clouds and beckoning a new day. This time of renewal leaves exposed the things and people who are most important in my life, the relationships that sustain and heal me. More importantly, the storm that preceded it washed away those relationships which were toxic and detrimental to my well-being. The rain cleared the path a bit in my walk of faith. It showed me in which direction I need to head and which paths are dangerous and self-destructive. Things are not always so clear after a storm. However, the timing of this cleansing could not have been any more fitting in my life.

“One can find so many pains when the rain is falling.” ~John Steinbeck, 1975


three things that go well together...lip gloss, susan, and BEEEEEEEEES!!!

1. lip gloss: huge milestone with this one...sharing lip gloss with others...not my issue, but the BFF's and apparently, or so she tells me, we reached a new level of friendship the day she allowed me to use her lip gloss...

2. susan: an old friend who came back to visit...and seems to love the BFF just as much as she loves me. unfortunately, we are trying to figure out how in the world we are going to send her away now that she finds a comfy home with both of us. she visits more often than she should and tends to overstay her welcome. but...how do you let her down gently?? someone is bound to get burned...

3. the BEEEEEEEE!!!!: good ol' bees. gotta love 'em. they play such an important role in nature and they are utterly adorable to look at. one day dawn and i went to the ATM so she could deposit some checks, or retrieve some cash...i cannot remember which. i was driving so i allowed her to get out of the car and walk up to the ATM while i sat in the car and talked to her. suddenly a bee flew in through my window and landed on my steering wheel. the cute little booger decided to walk round and round my steering wheel. i am not quite sure what it was looking for, but it was not at all scared of me. however, when i alerted the BFF to my new friend she quickly reminded me that she is deathly allergic to them. i tried to politely encourage the bee to get out of my car, but it landed on the waistband part of my seatbelt and decided to hang out. i drove forward so the damn thing wouldn't fly out and decide to exterminate my friend. i slowly unhooked my seatbelt and slipped my body through it, while the bee was just hanging out doing its thing. as i got out of the car, the sweet-seeking little creature flew toward my pants legs. now, i need you to put the picture of the next events in your mind's eye so you can really imagine them and get the full effect........are you ready? ok, so the thing flies toward my pants and lands on my leg. being the polite, insect-friendly person that i am, i attempted to gently kick the thing off my pants leg. it worked!!!! YES!! however, the bee flew to my other leg. i kicked again. back to the first leg. again. back to the other leg. faster and faster and faster. at this point, i am basically dancing in the middle of the bank of america parking lot while dawn is screaming that she needs to find the camera. i was like, i'm trying to save your life here and you want to take a damn picture of me dancing with this bee!!!!!!!!!!! the thing finally gave up on my pants and flew BACK into the car. it landed right on her freaking debit card. luckily, this time as she scurried behind the car i was able to (at her suggestion) pick the freaking thing up while it was just chilling on the card and carried it over to a bush where it could make its new home. we both JUMPED back into the car and rolled the windows up as fast as we could. THIS COULD ONLY HAPPEN TO US!!!!!!!!!!!! it was a genuine lucy and ethel moment. all i have to say is those bank of america folks MUST have gotten a good laugh if they had ANY reason to review their security tapes on monday.

no worries, we survived...and i promise to write more later!!! i have all the time in the world now.


The E.N.D. of Afton.

The E.N.D. is the title of the new Black Eyed Peas album. If you know me, and my diverse taste in music, perhaps you already know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE...and L-O-V-E...the Black Eyed Peas. However, that is not necessarily relevant here...I just wanted to be able to give them credit for the initial thought that led to this post. At the beginning of their new album, there is a futuristic, robotic voice speaking...and, of course, imparting wisdom...to us. (Please understand that I do not typically credit - or trust, for that matter - pop culture figures with dispersing wisdom; however, in this case, it was thought-provoking and absolutely relevant to my current life situation. This combination of factors influenced my label of this message as wise. Oh, how I digress.). So, the previously mentioned Mr. Robotica-like-orator says: "Everything around you is changing. Nothing stays the same. This version of myself is not permanent. Tomorrow I will be different. The energy never dies."
Since reaching adulthood, my ability to recognize my personality flaws and the life events that shaped those flaws increased ten-fold. Perhaps that is due in large part to my education; perhaps it is due to stepping out of the bubble that once influenced my every decision and action. Becoming an independent thinker is a scary thing. It is, at times, very humbling to realize the person you've become. It is also, at times, sad and disappointing. More often than not, it is exhilarating and empowering. In recent months, some of the people who know me best began making statements about the "change" in my personality within the past few years. Some do not agree with the changes; others support and encourage the changes. For those who do not know me well or have not been able to spend much time in my presence over the past several years, let me elaborate...
My life has always revolved around helping others...but evolved into putting others first in virtually all situations. In the past, I described myself as being loyal and helpful to a fault. This fault, as it turns out, became the sacrifice of my own needs and desires. The older and wiser Afton now has to look back and ask herself: What good does it do to help others when I am only doing it to fill a void within myself? What help am I to others if I cannot even help myself? How can I be honest with others if I am not willing to express my true thoughts and feelings, but lock those up in (what I thought was) an attempt to "protect" the people I care about?
As I am writing this, I literally gave this advice to one of my dearest friends...and it is something I very recently learned for myself: It is easy to become weakened when you are giving everyone else your strength. I don't know what back corner of my mind I pulled that from, but it sums up my entire life at this moment. I became weakened and thought I was on the verge of crumbling until I did something about it. I reached out to those who were my strength and support. I took some time to make sure I was meeting my own needs. I refocused my energy and attention. I am not 100% there yet...not even 60% there yet...but I am working on it. I feel myself changing every day, constantly discovering new things about myself and what I truly want in life. This is such a great feeling. I can only pray that this energy never dies...



it is rarely an easy thing to feel like you are at a crossroad in your life. sometimes we have challenges to face and difficult decisions we do not want to make, but we have no other choice. right now i am overwhelmed with that feeling. there are things going on in my life that are beyond my control. there are people in my life telling me i need to give up my desire to be in control all the time. i am torn in several different directions right now. i am happy with the way my life is going overall, but there are some issues that have me reeling and have my head spinning...friends, family, school, work, health, money, life in general. i imagine that if i could actually give up some control - for instance, let go and let God - my life would have even more balance and more peace than it generally already does. on one hand, i feel like i am mending some old relationships and strengthening bonds. but i have other relationships that need to be ended or otherwise drastically altered. i am so close to finishing school, but i feel driven to continue on and get my pH.d. i need a vacation, but i also need to work more to get caught up on the things i have let slide because of school and life circumstances. there are people and situations i want to confront, but i do not have time for the repercussions of those confrontations. there are new things i want to try, but right now i do not even have time for the things i once spent so much time doing for enjoyment, release, and relaxation. i think i need some time for meditation to clear my mind and start fresh. i am going to have to prioritize so i can handle all of the things i need to handle. however, i cannot deprive myself of the quiet moments or moments of laughter and joy that are so vital to rejuvenating by mind, body, and spirit.


Too smart for my own good?????

Tonight I sluggishly arrived at Research class after a loooooong day caused by another night of staying up way too late. The past several weeks, I've found a way to sneak out of class during the break. However, tonight I knew I would not be able to leave because we have a group presentation coming up and my group hasn't done a single thing to start preparing. As I was waiting for class to begin, my professor arrived with a huge stack of papers in his hand. Oh crap...I forgot about that paper I turned in last week and I certainly did not think he would already have it graded!!

As we filed into the classroom and got settled, he started handing out the papers. I did not expect my name to be called first. I got up and met my professor halfway, only to have him say "Excellent work!" as he handed my paper to me and walked away. I felt a sense of relief as I walked back to my table. Immediately, I started thumbing through my paper to find the grade sheet. Who cares about any notes he made; just give me the damn grade already!!! As I arrived at the grade sheet on the back, I glanced down and saw a note from him:
"I rarely give a 30 for this assignment, as it constitutes a perfect score, but you earned it." At this point, I decided it was appropriate to go through and pay attention to any notes left on the paper. There were few, so I went back to the grade sheet to verify what I previously saw. Still in disbelief, I waited until break time to go speak with him about my paper. As I approached, I said, "I know...I shouldn't have any questions about my paper...but..." He cut me off and jokingly said, "Oh, so you want to complain about your grade, eh?" I proceeded to ask my question, only to have him reassure me that my paper was "masterfully written" and the only perfect score he awarded. He then asked if I would email it to him so he can use it in the future as an example. Are you kidding me??? This is a paper that I wrote the day it was due! It took me 7 hours to turn out a "perfect" paper in RESEARCH class??? I am baffled, shocked, dumbfounded, confused. I still don't understand. I talked with a great friend on the way home about the awards I am getting this week (University Scholar and Outstanding Master's Student)...and my guilt about receiving those awards when I do not feel that I've given very much of myself to this Master's program. She laughed at me and said, "Let me get this straight...you feel BAD because you only have to give about 2% of your abilities and people STILL think you are amazing? Damn, I guess if you REALLY tried you could rule the world!" I guess I could decide to put that positive spin on things...why can't I see myself the way others do sometimes? Damn self-esteem...

"If I can't dazzle them with my brilliance, I baffle them with my bullshit" - client, 2008

2009 Crawfish Boil = Awesome!


Love is displayed by forgiveness?

As I was sitting in church today, the pastor delivered a message about great expectations. This particular sermon was about love; it was entitled, Trusting In The Perfect Love Of God. God defines love. Love is derived from God. Love is destructive to fear. These were three among the four points made by Pastor Matey. The fourth was the one that got me thinking: love is displayed by forgiveness.

For me, that is such a loaded concept due, in large part, to my previously mentioned issues with forgiveness (refer to post with obvious title). The other thought this brings to mind is this: shouldn't love be displayed by never causing someone to need to forgive you? I know that must sound naive and unrealistic...so, let me rephrase: shouldn't we display love by doing everything in our power to prevent the need for forgiveness? Shouldn't we be striving for perfection with those we love and doing everything in our power not to hurt them or otherwise need them to forgive us? I know this is impossible. That was another point Pastor Matey made today...only God has the ability to practice perfect love. However, if love is displayed by forgiveness and I have a disability - which, I suspect is just a smidge short of an inability - with that skill, does that mean I have a compromised ability to love? I know there is more to this discussion than I actually have energy for at the moment...so I will leave it at this for tonight. However, this is certainly a topic I will pick up again as soon as possible.

"To err is human, to forgive divine." - Alexander Pope (1711)


The simple things hold the most remarkable beauty

The same is true of nature and of people...

I witnessed this today as I was walking to my car to get my umbrella:

I hurried back inside and grabbed my camera...of course...and my secretary (who has become a dear friend of mine), Adrius. I stood, mesmerized, for about thirty minutes watching as this "rainbow" changed shape and color with the movement of the clouds (turns out it wasn't an actual rainbow...but a light show caused by the sun's rays bouncing off of ice crystals in the cirrus clouds...thanks david finfrock!!...i always knew i should've been a meteorologist...). I have never seen anything like it before. It was as though God knew I needed something to bring me peace today. The colors danced and changed, faded and reappeared. Just when I thought this brilliant light show was over, the "rainbow" would emerge from behind a cloud. Why can't something this remarkable happen every day?

A stranger to myself

It has been entirely too long since I posted anything. I was reminded of how much I need to write when a new friend brought up blogging in a conversation and we discussed mine. I am really shocked that it was over a year ago that I last posted something...and it has been much longer than that since I regularly posted anything. Writing truly is therapeutic for me and I probably need that now more than I have in a long time. There are many things swirling around in my world right now and I might as well get them off my chest (which is enough of a weight on its own) and onto the page...

That being said, I just took a sleepy pill and do not think a profound entry will find its way from my brain to my fingers tonight...mostly because I cannot narrow down which topic I should handle first...but I do think it is time to refocus on my writing and use this again as an outlet for the many emotions that run through me on a daily basis. In the past two years or so, I have let myself become so busy with other things that I've even alienated myself...

...back to basics, y'all.

"Everything intercepts us from ourselves." - Emerson, 1833


Out in the cold; left in the dark...

I just got home from the caucus. When I arrived around 6:50 p.m., there was an absolute buzz in the air; there was an energy that everyone seemed to share. People were feeling change and we knew we were all there to make a difference. The line wrapped around the polling place and down a city block. It was cold, but spirits were high. People were chatting with complete strangers-myself included, but that is nothing out of the ordinary for me. As time passed, the buzz began to dull. Minute by minute, then hour by hour the crowd became dejected, frustrated, angry, tired, confused, and eventually many were unable to handle standing in the cold any longer. There were no restrooms available to the public. We were told that the pastor of the church opposed allowing the citizens to use the facilities because he was concerned about them being "trashed". How's that for compassion and Christian outreach?

By the time the caucus procedures started, I would estimate that over half of the people (perhaps as many as two-thirds) who once stood in the line had given up and gone home. For those that remained in line, there was virtually no communication about why we were not being let in. People were becoming fed up. There was talk of "those on the inside" knowing that people would start leaving if they made us wait so long. There were conspiracy theories. It is interesting to see how people's minds start to wander when they are kept in the dark (literally and figuratively). It was about 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. by the time the line started to move inside the doors. I got inside the building at 10:35 p.m. and waited another half hour before making it into the caucus area. As I looked around at the people in line, I could no longer see the energy in their eyes. People looked beat down. They were tired. I suddenly felt sadness. This is the reason a lot of people do not trust the "system". They are told one thing and they follow the guidelines in place, only to find that the right hand does not know what the left is doing. People are often "left in the cold" when it comes to receiving what the government promises to deliver.

I do not regret this experience. I honestly believe that it is necessary to see how the system breaks down in order to know that fixes are necessary. The important thing is putting some effort into demanding those fixes. We cannot sit back and complain about the "system" if we are not willing to step up and help change it.

How do you know when you're not over him...

When you can't go through a single day without thinking about him?
When it breaks your heart to erase that last voicemail?
When he is the first person you think of when you have good news to share?
When you want to hear his voice and feel his arms around you?
When "what if" replaces what is?
When you can't sleep because memories continuously replay in your head?
When you send unhealthy and codependent messages just to get any reply?
When you long for his smell?
When you ache for his laugh?
When every love song is about him, every angry song, every slow song, every fast song?
When you see him around countless corners?
When you look for him everywhere?
When you hold your pillow at night wishing it was him?




I found out yesterday that a guy I went to high school with was murdered. He was gunned down in his front yard, while his family was inside the house. I cannot claim that this man was a close friend of mine. I remember him and I have nothing but positive memories about him...but he was not someone with whom I was close enough to call a friend and I do not feel comfortable calling him that now just because he was killed. I was not aware of where life had taken him. Although, the news coverage revealed that he was a husband and a father of two sons. It makes me wonder about the hands life has dealt other people with whom I once crossed paths. Are there other people that were taken too soon? Who did they leave behind?
Our ten-year reunion is only a few short months away. I know I will see many familiar faces that I have not seen since graduation. But, many faces will be missing. How will I know which people simply decided not to come and which may no longer be with us?
This makes me think about my own mortality. The people who really know me know that I do not see myself living a long life. But, when will my time come and what will be the cause of my exit from this life? I don't fear death itself. I fear the process of dying. As I'm sure virtually all people would agree, I don't want my death to be a long, slow, and painful one. I want to take the easy way out and pass away in my sleep, without a clue that the end is approaching. I've seen my funeral many times in my head. I wonder how many other people have thoughts like this on a regular basis. I've always had hang-ups about death; this is common knowledge. Obviously, I don't have overwhelming anxiety that causes me to stay within the confines of my home. I don't refuse to go through my daily activities because death could be waiting around the next corner. There are just many times that I ask myself, "What if today is the day?" I think about the people I would leave behind and the jobs I would leave unfinished, the travels not taken, the love not shared, the memories not made. I wonder if I've done enough in my life to be remembered. Do I have a legacy? Have I made a difference? When you lose someone unexpectedly, there are too many questions that are left unanswered. I learned that lesson many years ago. It changed the way I demonstrate my feelings for people. Actually, it changed my entire outlook on life. I don't want people to question the way I feel about them, especially the people I love. I remember asking myself 14 years ago, "When was the last time I said 'I love you'?" That is a painful question and I don't want to have to ask it again. I also don't want people to have to ask it about me when I'm gone. Maybe that is another reason I avoid confrontation. Although, I guess it should actually be a reason to embrace confrontation...get all your feelings out there and get over it as quickly as possible so you can make up and say you love each other. It might also be a reason why I'm a control freak...death is not something that I can control, so I want to maintain control of those things I am able to. Perhaps it is a major reason why I'm afraid to let anyone get too close...I want to leave as few people behind as possible; I certainly don't want to leave behind a husband and children. (Maybe that's really because I wouldn't trust him to raise the children correctly!!) =)
This is just another one of those topics that swirls around in my head. It just helps to get those thoughts out sometimes...because, of course, writing is my therapy.



Someone very recently pointed out to me that forgiveness is not something many people really know how to do. This got me thinking. (You are shocked right now; I am sure of it.) To the world at large, I would identify myself as a forgiving person. Most of my friends would probably agree with this. After all, isn't forgiveness the right thing to do? Aren't we all taught that we should forgive and forget? Doesn't every person with a good heart have to be able to forgive those who have wronged him or her?

There are some people in my life with whom I have encountered much anguish - at times triggered by my own emotional shortcomings and at times based solely on the actions of the other person - but they remain in my life. On the surface, it would appear that I have forgiven those people and moved on to strengthen our relationship. Here's a revelation...I never really forgive and I certainly don't forget. That is going to come as a shock to several people. In fact, this post may change some of my relationships. The truth is that I "forgive" because it is the easy thing to do. We are all well aware by now that I am not good at handling conflict. Why not just avoid all that? Besides, who wants conflict and awkwardness when you can just pretend everything is fine and act like you are moving on?

One of the many destructive things about that lie is something that is never really seen by anyone else. It is the dialogue that remains in my head, just waiting to spin its web any time I feel the slightest bit of doubt about the person in the future. The fact is that any time I get upset with a person, I always re-live his or her previous wrongdoings in my mind. "See, he/she is at it again...it's just like the last time." That hurts. It's hard. It really puts me in a bad place emotionally. My guard goes back up and I distance myself, if only momentarily, so I can regroup and start pretending again. I've had opportunities to walk away from relationships rather than "forgiving" a person. Why I haven't taken those opportunities is beyond my comprehension. This might be one of the few issues for which I cannot pinpoint a specific event in my life to label as the cause.

So, what now? If I've identified this flaw in myself without knowing the root of it, what is the solution? Is there a solution? Do I really want to find a solution? This brings up a completely separate issue of not allowing myself to be vulnerable. There's that control-freak thing again. Can I truly learn how to forgive if I am not willing to put myself in a position of vulnerability for others?



December 3rd is the biggest day of my f-ing life.



...is the biggest day of my f-ing life.


Happy Anniversary to me.

3 years.

If you know what that means, then you know what it means to me...and you might be able to guess the range of memories and emotions I'm going through today.



I know I've made a request regarding comments in the past...but today I'm feeling pretty bitchy so I'm going to gripe a little bit and make a new request. This request is different from my previous request. What I want now is to stop wondering who is leaving comments. I'm not asking everyone to sign up for blogger and have a username to label their comments. All I'm asking is that you take 5-8 seconds to type your name at the end of any comments you leave. I've received comments in the past that depending on who they were from would either infuriate or flatter me. Those are two completely opposite extremes. So, hopefully you will understand my need to know the identity of the people leaving comments. To those who have already been doing this...thank you.


In other news...

People suck and I'm tired of all the bullshit. I just need the truth. I promise I can handle it. It's better than nothing at all or a fucking ruse that I can dissect at every angle.

I need to go back to basics...start spending more time with the people I've been taking for granted lately.

I don't think I'll ever get married.

Try having that conversation with your parents. My mom took it surprisingly well...as though she already had a clue. I guess I've dropped hints over the last couple of years. Why will I probably never get married? Refer to my previous post entitled "Walls" for most of the answers. In short, I'm an extreme control freak and I don't let people get closer than absolutely necessary. Even my closest friends (past and present) have only been able to achieve a certain amount of closeness. Nobody has ever really been in my world. I've had friends try to explain to me the different level that true intimacy adds to a person's life. Don't get me wrong...I've always had every girl's fantasy of the perfect wedding, strong marriage, and beautiful family. I just don't think I will ever give up enough control to take a relationship to that point. All of my relationships have been short term. I seem to pick people that I can keep at a distance. When they start pushing me to get closer, I cut them loose completely. That is how I function. This is one of the areas of my life that I can't explain. I've been able to trace just about all of my character flaws to specific incidents/causes in my life. This one's still a bit of a mystery. I think I need to go back to therapy. This issue might need a bit of an outside influence to find the answer.



i am tired tonight, but for some reason i feel obligated to blog because i've actually been keeping up with it recently. so, i'll give just a few updates before i go to bed.

this has been a very long and very productive week. i still love my job so much!

grad school is awesome.

my friends are amazing.

my tan is fading. booooo.

jesse is sick and cutting her 2 year molars...or so i'm told. she just looks and sounds pitiful to me. i don't know if that has anything to do with teeth.

my great aunt libby died today. she was a funny and lively woman. i didn't get to spend enough time with her...but that is the sad truth with all of my extended family members. my last memories of her are from when we visited Tazewell in 2005 and she held jesse. i'm glad she got to meet her great great niece. i just wish her death wasn't another one on the list of cancer victims in this family. luckily, she did not have to suffer. as soon as she heard the diagnosis, she knew it was her time to go...and she went within a matter of days. i wish it could be that easy for everyone.




walls can be great...for protection, safety, security, privacy, shelter from storms

but what about emotional walls? they serve basically the same purpose...but, is it more reasonable to only have half-walls so at least someone can get past them? isn't being vulnerable actually a good thing...or at least having the ability to allow yourself to be vulnerable around someone while knowing that they would never take advantage of that vulnerability?

some of us, and i say us because i am one of these people, are so quick to build walls back up even after we've taken them down for people. it only takes the slightest hiccup in a relationship to send me back to square one where i completely close myself off from a person. that may only be mentally closing myself off and, perhaps, without the other person/people even knowing that anything went on. it can last anywhere from 30 seconds to months or even years...and there isn't necessarily one specific thing that brings the walls back down again. there are some people that i see or talk to on a very regular basis and i still have walls up against them. they may not notice it...or they may be in the same position.

on the other hand, with some people i am just defenseless. my walls aren't even strong enough to keep them out. i try to build the walls back up, but they are able to look straight through them. do i only have to allow myself to be vulnerable one time for certain people to garner this ability? there are times that i do not even finish a thought about building my walls back up before i'm dialing a person's number and taking the walls right back down. should i keep my walls up at all times with people like this so that i'm never put in the position of being defenseless? it would be exhausting to live life that way. but wouldn't it be safer...a way to prevent myself from ever being hurt or heartbroken?

what is it about walls? they seem to be manufactured in different strengths for different people in our lives. how do we decide that someone is trustworthy enough to come through the walls? is there a specific length of time that it should take for this to happen? if so, why is it instantaneous with some people? in difficult situations, why is it easier for some of us to put our walls back up and close ourselves off from the hard times while others are able to leave the walls down and completely immerse themselves in the conflict? which is the right way to handle that kind of situation?

the interesting thing here is that i know the answers to most of my own questions...yet i still act and react in very specific ways. i know a lot of that has to do with the things i talked about in my earlier entry about fighting fair. these two issues go hand-in-hand. maybe i just have to ask myself these questions at the right time to get the best answer for myself.


Hostile Work Environment

Interesting story...
A secretary in my office approached me at the end of last week with a disgusted look on her face. She clearly had something to discuss with me, but looked as though she didn't know how to start the conversation. Once she did, I was amazed...amazed that there is still such ignorance in the world. The question this woman asked, as if she knew I was going to agree with her, was if I thought I could "work with gays." Without hesitation, my response was, "Absolutely." She looked at me in disbelief and asked if I was serious as she sat down, probably trying to decide if she wanted to pray for me before or after she heard my explanation. Instead of going any further, I asked her why she thought she would have a hard time working with the gay population. She answered with yet another question: "What if one of them made a pass at me?" I explained to her my belief that it would be no different than a man she isn't attracted to making a "pass" at her...you say "no" and you move on. However, I added, most gay and lesbian people don't hit on people that they know are straight. She disagreed that it could be that simple, indicating that if a lesbian hit on her that would make her question what she could have done to make that person believe she was open to that kind of thing. We went on to discuss the religious aspect of the issue...which started with her stating that the Bible says it is wrong to be gay and ended with me arguing that it also names hundreds of other sins, but nobody seems to make such a big fuss about those. I don't understand how one sin can be seen as carrying any greater weight than another. How is someone who is gay or lesbian going to hell faster than a person, such as myself, who cusses and swears on a daily basis? Why don't you start throwing the Bible at all of the people, some of whom probably attend your very own church, who are having premarital sex? People need to take the word sex out of homosexual. These are living and breathing people with hearts, souls, and personalities just like the rest of us. They are just as beautiful and lovable as any straight person. I honestly believe you can't help who you love. Pick your battles...go after a group of people who are known for violence and destruction, murder, and other savage crimes...not people who just want to be left to love whoever their hearts tell them to love. As far as being able to work side by side with a GLBT person, who gives a shit what your coworkers are doing in their personal lives? You probably work on the same floor as a straight woman who allows her husband to sodomize her...but do you try to discover those things while you are at work or say that you wouldn't be able to work with that person? Here's a novel idea: mind your own business and do your job instead of walking around gossiping and eating candy all day. Quit judging people and try to open your heart to be loving and accepting of all people...that is really what Jesus would do. Isn't that what you walk around preaching anyway? I know I can't possibly be surrounded by social workers all the time...but can't people at least keep their ignorance within their own personal space? You can't possibly know by looking at me that I have a cousin who is gay, close friends who are gay and lesbian, or that my favorite professor in college was a gay man who once tried to live the "straight life"...so don't assume that I share your narrow-minded opinions. And if you are going to share them with me, be prepared to be challenged 110% by my open-minded beliefs and opinions. Why? Because I believe education is the only path that leads away from the ignorance that still exists in this world.


Fighting Fair

I haven't felt the need to write in a while...but tonight my mind is spinning. In the past, I've talked about the importance of the foundations in each person's life. You gain foundations for just about every facet of your character from your parents (or whatever "parental" figure raised you) and the environment in which you were raised. There are several other factors that influence your foundations, but the two primary influences are parent role-modeling and the home/family environment. One of the foundations that is often overlooked is the foundation for approaching confrontation. I've always been one to avoid confrontation, whether it was direct or indirect. It remains a source of great anxiety and discomfort. I've always been one who would rather write my feelings (positive or negative) down in a letter for someone to read when I am not around...or simply let an issue go without addressing it. Either of these options is far less traumatic than trying to speak my mind with the risk of being interrupted or, possibly, having to hear a rebuttal and not being able to respond with the correct response in a timely manner. It wasn't until this evening that I more clearly understood the underpinnings of my issues with confrontation. Without going into a full explanation of what transpired, I will simply mention the following questions that have since been raised in my mind and also some of the inner-dialogue that ensued:

Where do you learn to fight fair if you've only witnessed fighting dirty the majority of your life?

How does a simple argument turn into an insult-ridden, all-out assault on each other's emotions?

Why is it that when some people feel defenseless in an argument they turn to whatever irrelevant low-blow tactics they can grasp onto in order to remain a formidable opponent?

If the dysfunction that exists in your primary relationships is so rampant that it cannot be overturned, how do you practice appropriate methods of confrontation?

The basis of my fear and avoidance of confrontation stems from witnessing soul-crushing insults and exaggerated displays of the "silent treatment" from one parent to another (and in limited frequency, though for extended periods, between my parents and extended family members). Fights are rarely fair here. They seem to start with a small issue that gets stewed upon and smolders until a complete explosion of emotions is unavoidable. At that point, the boundaries are skewed and the emotions are indistinguishable from one another. They simply meld into one festering sore that can do nothing but ooze its dysfunction onto all those in its path. There is rarely healthy bickering...only the extremes: the cold shoulder or a verbal assault. My parents believe that they did us a favor by keeping most of their arguing behind closed doors in our childhood. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I understand that arguments can, at times, get out of hand and this is something that no child should witness. However, when all a child sees is the beginning of an argument (point A), followed by a closed door, the sounds of raised voices and crying, followed by parents emerging from behind the closed door, then embracing and saying they are fine (point B)...how the hell does that child learn what is takes to successfully get from point A to point B (and even how to prevent arriving at point A again)? I think it is crucial for children to witness healthy disagreements between their parents/loved ones. As stated, parent role-modeling is one of the vital pieces of learning appropriate methods of confrontation. However, when my parents did argue around us (or with us) the results were often painful (emotionally speaking) rather than educational. Do not misunderstand me; arguments were not commonplace in my home growing up. Unfortunately, when they did occur there was rarely a sense of complete resolution. How could there be when you were either just ripped to your core with insults or completely emotionally neglected for the sake of pointing out that you did or said something wrong? Do you ever have the sense that even after an argument you have to continue walking on eggshells regarding the topic? That's the way it typically feels. Of course there is going to be some lingering tension and emotional residue in the short-term. But, what about the long-term effects?
I know that no parents are perfect and I'm not saying that mine were horrible. But, I think it's important to realize that, as parents, you influence every aspect of the person your child is going to become. You cannot change the role-modeling you witnessed as a child, but you can make a decision to provide something better for your children. My parents tried to do that...Lord knows the situation for my sister and I was far better than my parents' respective situations in childhood...but it still is not good enough for my children. These are lessons I am trying to learn before having children of my own. I do not want to perpetuate the emotional and psychological distress of not knowing how to appropriately handle confrontation. The question remains...if I am not able to improve upon my own confrontation skills, how will I do any better educating my children?


"Many people search blindly for the 'meaning of life.' What they don't seem to understand is that life does not have meaning through mere existence or acquisition or fun. The meaning of life is inherent in the connections we make to others through honor and obligation." --Dr. Laura Schlessinger


Thank you for explaining my life and my purpose, Dalai Lama

"It is important to diminish undisciplined states of mind, but it is even more important to meet adversity with a positive attitude. Keep this in mind: By greeting trouble with optimism and hope, you are undermining worse troubles down the line. Beyond that, imagine that you are easing the burden of everyone suffering problems of that kind. This practice--imagining that by accepting your pain you are using up the negative karma of everyone destined to feel such pain--is very helpful...Therefore, ingesting their negatives is not that much of a problem for me, but it lessens their problems."

"Buddha said that patience is the highest form of asceticism, and through it one can reach nirvana...there are four qualities of patience and tolerance to maintain:
^If someone pushes you around, you should be tolerant, patient
^If someone shows anger to you, you should not respond with anger
^If someone hits you, you should not strike back
^If someone embarrasses and insults you, you should not answer back"

In case it's not obvious, I'm studying Buddhism. It really makes sense to me and I feel like, for the most part, I've already been living my adult life through these practices and principles. That does not mean I am leaving Christianity behind, but I'm still searching for the right fit for me, spiritually speaking. There are some similarities between the two religions. Right now I am reading a book written by the Dalai Lama. He references Christianity for some examples and speaks positively about it. I'm not even half-way through this book (I have two others to read), but I feel like what I've read so far will help lead me on an interesting journey and perhaps some self-discovery. It has certainly helped ease my mind about the events of the past week. Anything that can do that deserves my attention.



I had a good cry this morning. Today is just a bad day for me...emotionally. First of all, Mary's funeral is tomorrow and the idea of death is weighing heavy on my mind. Not so much the idea of my own death, but the idea of death and loss in general and how suddenly they can come upon people. At the same time that I am mourning this loss, I was looking forward to the wonderful blessing of a new birth. It's so ironic that these events happened so close to one another. It's almost like the familiar adage that with every death comes new life. Being somehow included in this birth was something that I was looking forward to. Because of these recent events, it transformed into something I needed at a time like this. I don't mean "included" like in the delivery room or waiting in a hospital lobby, I simply mean being informed about the situation as important things happen. That was something that was offered to me long ago. But, for some reason, the decision was made to leave me out completely. That hurts more than anything I've experienced in a long time. I understand that with something as impending as the birth of a child, some decisions must be made in haste and not everyone can possibly be made aware of the situation. However, there is always that select group of people who get "the call" when things are set in motion. I was told that I was in that group...but I never got the call. I asked myself if that was really something to get upset about. After much contemplation, the answer is a solid yes. For me, the level of communication is a sign of how friendship is measured between two people. Why shouldn't I feel hurt that several other people that I thought or I was told are less important than me (in regards to being notified)knew about this before I did? There's just something wrong with being one of the last to know when you were told you would be one of the first. I didn't know what was happening until it was all over...and that is only because I called the house and a family member answered the phone and told me. It was some time later that I actually received a phone call, but I suspect that it was only because this family member called to let the parents know that I was trying to reach them. I'm just really confused and really hurt right now. On a normal day, this still would have affected me...but this is not a normal day, so I am taking it 10 times harder. The struggle right now is that this is not the time for confrontation about this issue. I may be hurt, but this is no time to express that. I'm far too considerate of the beauty of this situation for the parents. There is no way I would ruin that. But, at the same time, that means I have to keep my distance. I just have too much going on emotionally right now and I cannot put myself in the middle of this situation...so, in my very Afton way, I will do my best to avoid it. However, there will be a time in the not-too-distant future that it must be discussed and resolved. There could be a million excuses as to why I wasn't called, but not one of them is good enough. I'm beginning to think that I put too much faith in people to not let me down. I've always had trust issues. We all know I am a control freak. But, for some reason when friends tell me they are going to do something I believe them completely and whole-heartedly. That is the primary issue here. I was told one thing would happen and then the complete opposite happened. It's not as though I just assumed that I deserved to be included in this event. I was told from the beginning that I was a big part of it and would be one of the people called when they were on the way to the hospital. If that plan changed somewhere along the way, I would be able to handle that...if I was notified of the change. But, there is just a completely different sting to the situation when no effort is put into communicating. I don't know what else I can say at this point. I'm just tired of being disappointed over and over again.


Unwanted gain, unexpected loss

This weekend has been a series of reconnections with my past...specifically, with people from my past. First, from high school, a person that I was once very close friends with who later walked over me and used me. I have not spoken with this person in years. In that time, I've found out additional information about the ways in which she betrayed me when I thought we were friends. Enter the wonderful world of Myspace, the place where anyone can find anyone. I've watched the list of CHS '98ers grow steadily. In the back of my mind, I was always curious (and a bit concerned) about whether or not I would see her name appear one day. That day came last week, but I honestly did not expect her to try to contact me. I got a friend request from her over the weekend. Instantly the internal struggle began. Do I tell this person to fuck off and ask her if she is still a whore, a liar, and a crackhead? Or do I "befriend" her long enough to see what the hell she wants and try to get back some of the stuff I lost? (By "befriend", I mean only in the Myspace sense of the word...and by "stuff", I mean only one thing: money). I've asked several people what I should do, but I'm not ready to jump into anything yet. This is a blast from the past I was not looking forward to.
The second reconnection with my past occurred tonight. It was not a direct connection, as that is hard to do when you lose someone. I got a call tonight to inform me that one of my former coworkers passed away. I was employed at Cellular World while I was in college and I got pretty close to the people that I worked with each day. Mary was like a grandmother to me. I don't even think she was old enough to be my grandmother, but that is the most appropriate association I can make. She was someone that I greatly respected. This woman went through so much in her lifetime and somehow she managed to go on every day. She was incredibly strong, wise, and caring. After I left Cellular World and started my post-college career, I lost touch with most of my coworkers. However, I did see Mary from time to time at gatherings. She was always pleasant to be around, even on her worst days. Her death is a completely unexpected loss. It is a reminder to me that I should cherish every moment I have on this earth, because there is no way of knowing when my time will be up. Not only that, there is no way of knowing when I will lose those around me. I've always had issues with death, but that is not an issue for me tonight. All I am feeling right now is a sense of loss. I am going to do whatever I can to attend her funeral. It will be a major step for me because it will be the first funeral I've attended for someone I know. I went to my first funeral last year, when my friend lost her mother-in-law, whom I had never met. I don't know what to expect. I know it will be a very emotional time. Loss, even when it is expected, is never an easy thing to process. I want to be strong for her, because that is something I respected about her character and I want to do my best to honor her memory and her impact on my life. For her, I will celebrate the day that has finally come for her to be reunited with Michael again.

"To die completely, a person must not only forget but be forgotten, and he who is not forgotten is not dead." - Samuel Butler


My Life in a Song

what will be left when i've drawn my last breath
besides the folks i've met and the folks who know me
will i discover a soul saving love
or just the dirt above and below me

i'm a doubting thomas
i took a promise
but i don't know what's safe
oh me of little faith

sometimes i pray for a slap in the face
then i beg to be spared 'cause i'm a coward
if there's a master of death i'll bet he's holding his breath
as i show the blind and tell the deaf about his power

i'm a doubting thomas
i can't keep my promises
'cause i don't know what's safe
oh me of little faith

can i be used to help others find truth
when i'm scared i'll find proof that it's a lie
can i be led down a trail dropping bread crumbs
that prove i'm not ready to die

please give me time to decipher the signs
please forgive me for time that i've wasted

i'm a doubting thomas
i'll take your promise
though i know nothing's safe
oh me of little faith



You make me sick.
I hate being around you; I hate even looking at you.
You're a liar.
You're a fake.
You are selfish.
You are insensitive.
You constantly degrade people to make yourself feel better.
You push people away.
You've never been there for me.
You bring nothing but negativity into my world.


In a field

I'm starting to think I can actually take a decent picture... Posted by Picasa


The latest

I just spent a week in New York... Posted by Picasa

As usual, it was amazing. Posted by Picasa

It's hard to leave such an incredible city. Posted by Picasa

At least Jesse liked the souvenir hat I brought home for her... Posted by Picasa


Not Ready to Make NicePosted by Picasa


Feel the love...

Happy Valentine's Day!! LOVE is in the air. I, too, have been bitten by the LOVE bug and struck by cupid's arrow today. You might be a bit shocked and want to ask what exactly I have fallen for...so I will not hold you in suspense any longer. I LOVE my new ticket. I LOVE the police officer that issued my new ticket. I LOVE the fact that he claimed I was going 87 in a 60. I also LOVE the fact that when I denied that I could possibly be going that fast he said, "Oh, I may have caught a car on the other side so I'll just give you a ticket for 70 in a 60." Fucker. I LOVE that Fort Worth requires a person to actually appear in court to sign the ticket rather than just mailing it in. I LOVE that I cannot take defensive driving to get rid of this ticket because I just completed it for my last ticket. What I LOVE most of all is that NOBODY is going to say, "I told you so!" or try to lecture me about getting another ticket in less than 6 months. LOVE is such a wonderful feeling...


You're Beautiful...It's True

My gynecologist--stop reading right here if you are uncomfortable with this subject matter--is a very funny woman. She and I have been through a lot together, medically speaking. She was able to help me get through some tough times by using a great sense of humor. I mean, who else can say their gynecologist has used the phrase, "As long as you don't have a porn star boyfriend, you'll be fine" or tried to prescribe them sex? One minute she is saying things like, "Your first baby will blow that right out," and in the next breath telling me the benefits of a C-section include not becoming one of those women that pees on herself when laughing, sneezing, or coughing. She is pure genius, I tell you. But, at times, pure genius can make a person uncomfortable. Take my annual exam last year, for example. The woman was doing my breast exam and, for whatever reason (although we ALL know the reason), made the comment, "Your breasts really are humongous!" Wow, that was kind of strange and a little bit awkward...but I had to admit she was just pointing out a well-known fact. So, I let it slide. This year, she seems to have one-upped herself. There was no stray comment about my breasts during this year's exam...although, they certainly have not gotten any smaller. Oh no, this year she reserved her commentary for the real deal. So, there I am in all my glory...hospital gown, gauze-like footies, paper blanket, hallogen lights...just wanting to get this over with so I can return to work because I have so much to do. Then, from a place just beyond my knees and below my comfort zone, came the words that would forever change me..."Oh, you have a beautiful vagina!" A million thoughts raced through my head...What exactly does that mean? Should I be proud of myself? I want to see! What the hell is wrong with her? I rule! Are you kidding me right now?...but all I could manage was nervous laughter. I was finally able to say, "Wow, I'm really embarrassed right now," just as the nurse was walking over to see for herself what the doctor was talking about. She added a comment about everything looking great. In my confusion, all I could think to say was, "Well, you've put enough work into it so I hope so." After a brief and purposefully abrupt conclusion to the conversation, I was dressed and out the door. I couldn't help but look in the rearview mirror to see just how red my face was as I drove away from what can only be described as one of the weirdest experiences of my life. I also couldn't help but wonder if she has she ever told someone the complete opposite..."Oh, your vagina is ugly/could use improvement/needs a break/makes me ill/I quit, it's not worth it anymore!" I can't even imagine the things she has seen...but how often does she feel compelled to make comments like that? I can only say that I'm relieved to receive the type of comment I did, rather than the opposite. I find it interesting to consider the fact that if a man heard a compliment like that about his penis, he would most likely feel completely validated (and possibly aroused)...but as a woman, I was confused and embarrassed. That may have something to do with my own personality. But, it seemed that all of the women I talked to afterward shared my awkward and embarrassed reaction. When I got back to the office, I talked about the incident with several people and got some very different opinions about my doctor's comments. I think it is important to note that I do not think my doctor was out of line or inappropriate, mostly because we have always carried on with this type of banter. However, several people have made a good point that if she was a man I would probably be considering a lawsuit before I even got out of the stirrups. That may be true, but luckily it's not the case. Right now, I'm just considering whether or not I should go ahead and write my Vagina Monologue...because it just keeps getting better and better. If nothing else, from this day forward I will have a hilarious story to tell about one of the weirdest days of my life...and I also have a new pick-up line for dating..."My doctor says my vagina is beautiful. Wanna find out what all the fuss is about?" Now I'm certain to be married within the next year......


Taking a back seat

I love being important to people...but who doesn't? I tend to find one really great friend and place him/her in the center of my world. For a period of time, that works. It is usually a person who is struggling for some reason, is in need of a devoted friend, or just has never experienced the type of bond I am able to form with people. Undoubtedly, the attention I give and the loyalty I show are easy to cling to during difficult times. However, once that difficult time passes or the newness of the friendship wears off...what happens to the dynamics of the relationship? I've had several friendships go through this. When I was younger, my fear of rejection automatically kicked in during the "transition" to what would be considered a more healthy and normal form of friendship. I would run the other direction or, the other extreme, hold on for dear life because I was afraid that if a friendship changed that meant it had to end. I am going through this transition right now and I see how much I have grown emotionally in my adulthood. My perspective has changed from--excuse my trite metaphor--being kicked out of the car to simply taking a back seat. The fact is that every friendship evolves. Our lives are in motion and things are bound to happen that change our situations. The sign of a true friendship is one that stands the test of time, one that can overcome any new factor that changes its dynamics. The people I have chosen to surround myself with are not so fickle that a major life event on their part would cause them to shut me out of their lives completely. There is just some shifting involved. At times that shifting is very subtle and at times it is more pronounced. Whatever the case may be, the back seat isn't such a bad place to be. Think about your back seat for a minute. It is the place where most people keep those things that are important and have to be within reach when needed...large things that cannot be shoved in the glove compartment, the console, that little change holder, or the ashtray. Some things are kept in the back seat for safety reasons. Others are stored there until a more appropriate location can be found. But, the point is that these things are not completely left out or completely forgotten. They may be back there for quite some time before you realize it, but they are eventually rediscovered. Over time, the same is true with any friendship that has taken a back seat. In the meantime, I will just sit here patiently and play with this trash you have on the floorboard and "The Club" you should be using so that your car doesn't get stolen. Oh look, there's a piece of candy......


Look how big she's gotten!

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As of today, I've been an aunt for 6 months!


My third painting

Flohesion Posted by Picasa


My second painting

Geometry Posted by Picasa


My first painting

Swirl Posted by Picasa


Sometimes no words are necessary...


Bad day...

Today was just a really bad day! This realization came to me when I awoke to find that my cat was vomiting all over the place. She even threw up on my bed! Ugh. Needless to say, I had to rip off my sheets and throw them in the washer. This put me behind schedule. I was almost afraid to leave her, because I had no idea what was wrong. Unfortunately, I set up a morning home visit so I had to go. I was running late...and I tend to have a lead foot...so, of course, I was speeding. I am normally very attentive when I am driving. However, this morning I was much too distracted to notice the little speed trap on I-20 until it was too late. I did manage to slam on the brakes and got a ticket for 77 in a 60 rather than 85 in a 60. To top it off, I haven't had time (or enough free brain cells) to remember that I needed to switch out my insurance cards. So, I got myself a second ticket for failure to maintain liability insurance. I'm not worried about these tickets, because they are easily taken care of. They just added to my list of unpleasant events. Once I finished my home visit and got to work, I got the news that one of my relatives has decided he can no longer care for his 4 grandchildren and he is relinquishing them back to us. That means these kids have to go back into foster care! I hate that sooooo much. I tried to tell the worker that there are other relatives available, but she feels inconvenienced by the fact that they haven't had enough contact with her. To that I say get off your fucking power trip and think about what is best for these kids!! I practically begged her to let me do a home assessment on them just to see if they would work out. I still haven't gotten a response from her, but I sure as hell know she read the email (thank you, Microsoft Outlook, for email tracking!). Once I realized that I wasn't functioning very well at work, I decided to go home. I can always work from my home computer late in the evening, so it wasn't a matter of leaving work sitting on my desk. On my way home, I decided that a visit with Jesse was needed to add a positive moment to my day. Once I got there, Dad decided to call me out on my distant behavior for the past month and we got into a discussion about how fucked up things are right now in the family. I've been wanting to get into that discussion for a while now, but I was weighing my options between stepping into the situation and keeping my distance so as not to get overly involved. I got what I needed out of that visit, but then my sister came home and took the baby to see Trevor. That is another situation I need to gripe about some other day...because I could go on and on. Right now, my complaint is that my time got cut short because she felt that it was more important for that worthless asshole to see Jesse instead of me. Whatever, I'll admit that I'm bitter. One positive thing today: I came home to find that Roxie survived the day and did not throw up all over the place while I was gone. After that refreshing discovery, I decided to turn on the television and catch up on the news. Of course, the majority of the broadcast on every station covered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The images are becoming just as exhausting as those we kept seeing after 9/11. It wears on me to continuously see footage of devastation and suffering. At the same time, I want to take it all in so that I can try to have some understanding of what these people are going through. This is a really tough time for so many people. I have a friend who was living in New Orleans and felt that it had become her home. She was visiting her family in another state when Katrina hit. Obviously, she cannot go home. She is quite distraught and needs a lot of prayer right now...as all these people do. Rebecca, I'm praying for you. Everyone who reads this, please pray for her too. Pray for the city and all those who are suffering because of this tragic situation. No matter how bad my day was, I count my blessings that I still have my life, my family, my friends, and my home.


Family Ties

I had a dream the other night that is sticking with me. It wasn't a scary dream, nor was it particularly happy/exciting for any reason. It was just a random dream. It might be considered disturbing, but not in a fuck-you-up-psychologically kind of way. It was more of a reminder that some things really suck and I wish I could change them...but I haven't been successful thus far. I remember my Aunt Wendy being there and my mom. That was nothing out of the ordinary. The odd part was that my Aunt Jo was there too. For anyone who knows anything about my family history, you will understand why this is not normal. For those who don't know, I will just say that these three have not been in the same place together in almost 12 years now. That is a long fucking time. I hate even writing that. I remember in the dream I felt relieved to have them all in the same place. My mom and Aunt Jo were crying. It was like when Uncle John showed up at my college graduation party and he and Mom both cried. They hadn't seen each other or spoken in quite some time. I'm not sure why Uncle John wasn't in the dream. I don't know why Aunt Vicki wasn't there either. I guess this dream wasn't completely random. Earlier in the evening, I read an old paper that I wrote four and a half years ago while I was in college. It was about my values...obviously, a social work paper. I wrote about how the events in my family have influenced my values. It's amazing how clear these things were to me at such a young age. The question was, how could I make the rest of the family understand? Here's an excerpt from the paper:

I witnessed five siblings completely torn apart in a battle over material possessions. A family was ruined because pride, greed, and miscommunication were displayed more than any type of love. After viewing such a scene, I vowed that I would never let a relationship be based more on worldly goods than on love. These siblings could not see it at the time, but they were fighting over much more than my grandfather's estate. They were fighting over the love of one man. Because none of them were shown the same amount love, they all felt the need to prove they were loved in even the slightest capacity. All they heard each other saying was, "I want this," or "I'm taking that!" What I heard was much different. "If he loved me as much as he loved her, he would at least allow me to remember him with this." "Maybe by having one of his treasures I will be able to prove to the others that I was treasured." Could I stand up to all my relatives and share my interpretations of their behavior? At thirteen, no, I had no way of expressing my feelings as I do now. But, what I was able to do was make myself a promise that I would never allow a situation like that to take place in any of my relationships, family or otherwise.

I've always wanted to be the hero in my family, the peacemaker. I want to be able to talk to everyone and fix this whole mess. I just want to go back to those times when we actually were a family. It has been so fucking hard growing up without an extended family. My parents are constantly preaching that family doesn't fight family and we always have to be there for one another. Apparently, that only applies to our immediate family. Why doesn't it matter with their own siblings and parents? The ones who have really suffered in this situation are the kids. I don't think anyone thought of that when they decided that not speaking for the rest of their lives was the right thing to do. I had cousins that I was pretty close to and they were suddenly ripped out of my life...and vice versa. Yes, I'm still bitter about it. I don't know these people now...not like I should. I've tried to make my own relationships with everyone, but it's awkward. There are years that we've lost. It wasn't until 7 years after this shit happened that I was an adult who could make my own decisions about having contact with the family members my parents refused to speak to. I had to tag along with my Uncle John on a trip to Georgia in order to begin this journey for myself. I sat and cried with Aunt Jo and Aunt Vicki over what has taken place in this family. They both expressed a longing to have back the relationships that were lost. Unfortunately, everyone seems to feel that it is too late. Nobody is willing to make the first move. I've been trying to come up with a plan for years about how to fix this. If nobody is willing to make the first move, how can I make it for them? Honestly, when it comes to something like this I'm still just a kid. At some point, don't I just have to realize that this issue is bigger than me and there is no amount of energy or effort on my part that could fix it?


She already tries to cuss me out!

This is the face Jesse made when I told her about the things that went on at Alisha's party over the weekend! I think she was mostly upset because it was the reason why I couldn't come see her. Or maybe she was jealous because she didn't get to sing I'm a Slave 4 U on the karoake machine with me! Posted by Picasa


For all those inquiring minds...

I was able to complete the home assessment by Friday and the precious little girl was placed with her grandparents that evening! She was so excited and happy to go live with them. Cases like that make the long hours much easier and definitely worth it!



Notice the time...it's after 2am. I am still awake because I just decided to stop working for the night. This week has been interesting. I feel a little bit overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do within the next few days. At the same time, I am enjoying myself. I did a home assessment today on grandparents who want their granddaughter placed in their home as soon as possible. I was so impressed with them and impacted by their committment that I am trying to get this home assessment typed and submitted by the end of tomorrow. If I can do that, they have a chance to get her before the weekend. They are so worried about her going to her first day of Kindergarten as a foster child, only to be yanked out a week or so later and put into a different school once she is placed with them. School starts in their district on Monday, so she needs to be with them by Sunday. Am I crazy for trying this? If I didn't think it was possible, I wouldn't be doing it. The only variable that I can't control is the willingness of the worker to place her on Friday or over the weekend. I have a feeling that I will be volunteering to do that for her if she decides she has more important things to do than make sure a child's first day of school isn't a horrible experience. I'm definitely not a workoholic on a daily basis...but there are times when my determination gives me no other choice...especially when it's for a cause as worthy as a child. I haven't seen my little Jesse since Sunday, but I have the privilege of knowing that she is in good hands while I take a little extra time to help out some other kiddos who are not quite as fortunate.


What do you get when you mix two social workers with a couple of bottles of wine?

I must admit that I'm a bit tipsy as I write this. It will be a first for me...an almost-drunk blog. I promise to deliver a completely-drunk blog at some point in the future, but that will have to occur on a night when I'm not expected to drive. I'd like to start by saying I had an absolutely wonderful weekend! I haven't exactly been myself for the past few (or maybe eight) weeks, but this weekend was awesome and I certainly started today with a huge grin on my face. It was noticeable enough that one of my coworkers asked me what the hell I was smiling about as soon as she saw me this morning. That's good! Other exciting news for the day...Amanda had her baby! Yea! I'll be the first to admit that I never thought she would be able to do it without meds, but she proved me very wrong and I'm so damn proud of her! Her precious baby girl was born at 12:06 p.m. and weighed 8 pounds 4 ounces. I'm so excited to have another newborn around! She really is cute, but I can't tell who she looks like yet.
O.K., back to the question at hand...because it is a continuation of my great weekend...what do you get when you mix two social workers (who, by the way, happen to be good friends) with a couple of bottles of wine? The first answer to that question is some damn good conversation. I can't even begin to list all of the subjects covered tonight...but I will do my best: married life, gay friends, gay marriage, abortion, the death penalty and the appeals system, domestic violence, CPS, crime and punishment, friends/family in troubling relationships, proper proposals, college professors, debt and money management, George W., Republicans in social work, and I'm sure the list goes on and on. It's probably not very exciting for someone who isn't drinking wine and doesn't have an interest in these issues, but we had a damn good time catching up! I think I've realized over the past few days that I've really kicked myself in the ass by withdrawing over the last couple of months. It's time to come out and play with my friends! Well, actually, right now it's time to crawl into bed...I love wine!


Look who's getting too big for her britches!

I'm No Heroine

you think I wouldn't have him
unless I could have him by the balls
you think I just dish it out
you don't think I take it at all
you think I am stronger
you think I walk taller than the rest
you think I'm usually wearing the pants
just 'cause I rarely wear a dress
when you look at me
you see my purpose,see my pride
you think I just saddle up my anger
and ride and ride and ride
you think I stand so firm
you think I sit so high on my trusty steed
let me tell you
I'm usually face down on the ground
when there's a stampede
I'm no heroine
at least, not last time I checked
I'm too easy to roll over
I'm too easy to wreck
I just write about
what I should have done
I just sing
what I wish I could say

-Ani DiFranco


Comment Phobia?

O.K. folks, what is it about leaving comments? I find this very interesting. I mean, people are incredibly entertaining. We all know I could sit and study humans 24 hours a day. I know everyone is different...but I'm beginning to notice vast differences in behavior when it comes to those who blog versus those who are not familiar with the concept yet. Here's what I find most fascinating...I can't quite grasp the fact that I'm putting myself out there with some of my inner-most thoughts for the world to see and some of the people who read them are still too shy to post a comment. I know that the people in my inner circle of friends and family are not the most up-to-date thinkers on this whole blog concept. But, I guess my expectations were higher about the fact that more people would be willing to put themselves out there a bit by adding something to the conversation. It would be one thing if nobody was reading the damn blog. My initial intention was for it to be an online journal with a hidden audience. I needed to put my thoughts out there, but I didn't necessarily want to know who was reading them. Now, it has become a means of communication. If I'm having a bad day, people check the blog to see if they can figure out what's wrong with me. If I haven't spoken to my friends in a while, they will check in to see what has been going on. Now that I have a niece, some people check to see how much she has grown since I last posted pictures of her. All this to say that the blog is being read, and quite regularly it seems. How do I know if people aren't posting comments? Well, that's simple...they are responding in other ways. That's what is so funny to me. I get emails all the time in response to something in the blog. I get phone calls. People send me stuff. But I don't get any damn comments! (No offense to the people who have left comments in the past!) You all know how much I value your feedback. I even tried to be subtle and throw a paragraph at the top of the blog about how much your opinions mean to me. I'm not looking for anything profound or extraordinary...just let me know you are out there, send some encouragement from time to time, and, by all means, let me know if it's time to add a new entry or an update. Now, here's a picture of my niece, you jerks...this is the face she made when I discussed this topic with her.


Happy Birthday To Me

Thanks to everyone who remembered my birthday and made it a really good day for me! There was an exciting development and I'm really ready to see what becomes of it! I guess it's a good thing I wasn't totally withdrawn all day.

Oh, and here's something interesting that apparently only mothers can appreciate. Jesse got her first shots today and both my mom and sister broke down crying...

Why would this make you cry? They didn't cry when I was cutting her fingernails and I accidentally pinched her finger. She sure did throw a fit for about an hour and I didn't see anyone breaking down over that. Getting immunized serves an actual purpose...having your (favorite) aunt almost end your life with nail clippers is much more traumatic and worthy of tears from Mom and Grammy! I guess we just prefer it when she is so sweet and adorable...which is at least 1/4 of the time!


Moodiness...that's for sure

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!


Birthday Schmirthday

The countdown to my birthday has begun. Once Dad's birthday and Daidra's birthday have passed, I know that mine is just a matter of days away. This year I dread it. As the day draws closer, I feel myself withdrawing more and more. I know that some of this is related to what happened last year. It can easily be called the worst birthday I can remember. I thought I was over it, but now I feel like I've gone into self-defense mode and I'm preparing to spend the day by myself just to prevent anything from going wrong again. This is the extreme opposite of what birthdays are supposed to feel like. It's fairly unfamiliar territory for me. I've never had a problem celebrating my birthday. I don't like or want a big fuss, but in previous years I've enjoyed dinner and going to a bar with my friends or just hanging out somewhere. I'm sure if recent circumstances were different, I might not be feeling quite this dramatic about my birthday. Unfortunately, I was already in the process of withdrawing. That made it much easier for me to react negatively to the memories from last year's birthday and transfer them into a defense mechanism. Suddenly I feel old in my mid-20s. These are supposed to be the greatest years of my life...somewhere between youth and full-fledged adulthood. I don't feel that way right now. I feel exhausted. I feel run-down. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I just need some time to re-energize and regroup.



i love the time and in between
the calm inside me
in the space where i can breathe
i believe there is a
distance i have wandered
to touch upon the years of
reaching out and reaching in
holding out holding in
i believe
this is heaven to no one else but me
and i'll defend it as long as i can be
left here to linger in silence
if i choose to
would you try to understand

-Sarah McLachlan


Out of Control

I'm a control freak. I'm not scared...I'll admit it. When it comes to my life, I want to have the reins on every aspect. Right now, I'm desperate for the reins. Where are the fucking reins? It's like I'm on a stage coach that's running at full speed and my salvation lies in straps of leather that are flopping down by the horses' hooves. I have no control and I have no idea how to reach for and grab the reins without putting myself in harm's way. That may be one of the most hyperbolic descriptions I've ever written, but that's really how I feel at the moment. Something is out of whack lately. I can't put my finger on just one thing that triggered this sense of chaos. It's almost like all the walls started coming in at once. I'm in if-it's-not-one-thing-it's-another mode. I'm constantly worried about Jesse, so I try to spend tons of time with her. When I do that, naturally I neglect other areas of my life. I try to switch my focus to friends. Sometimes my friends are busy or unavailable. Sometimes there is the overwhelming realization that an awesome friend now lives several states away and we can't just hang out like we used to. Then I get a random phone call that reminds me that I also have family far away that I love and miss. So I start to think about when I can take another vacation, which turns my attention to financial issues. At 24 years old, you would think financial issues should not be too daunting. Unfortunately, I was a typical college student and acquired a substantial chunk of debt from some reckless spending and those despised, yet necessary, student loans. My debt certainly is not out of control. It does not hinder my everyday spending. However, I am a planner and constantly try to come up with new ideas for how to pay off my debt sooner. When I think about student loans, I think about going back to school for my Masters in Social Work. I won't settle for anything less than my MSW. The question is, when will I be able to go? That leads to an entirely different set of questions about the future. I don't even want to get into those. I just want my brain to slow down and give me a break. I'm feeling overwhelmed and tired. Those feelings cause me to question everything and everyone around me. If you could look inside my head, that process would not be a fun one to watch. I over-analyze. That is well-known among my loved ones. When I do that, I withdraw. That's where I am right now...in my head trying to decide what is important in my life and what hinders me. All I need is a little time to figure that out.
"In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth." - Mahatma Gandhi